Smokeless tobacco products can cause cancers, chromosomal damage, infections and death. There is a ban on supplying these products in Australia. However, in specific circumstances individuals may import the product for personal use.
About smokeless tobacco
Smokeless tobacco is available in several forms:
- oral snuff – ground tobacco held in place in the mouth and sucked. Snuff can be loose or in a ready to use sachet much like a teabag designed for sucking.
- paste and powder – tobacco ground down to paste or powder and applied to the teeth or gums.
- chewing tobacco – a loose leaf, plug tobacco or twist chewing tobacco chewed by the user.
Smokeless tobacco products such as nasal snuffs or tobacco free oral snuffs may not be captured under the ban. We suggest contacting the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), or your local State or Territory Health Department to see if other legislation applies.
Risks and injuries
Smokeless tobacco products are absorbed into the user's system through sucking or chewing. They can carry levels of nicotine equivalent to or greater than those found in cigarettes.
Studies have shown a link between the use of smokeless tobacco products and a variety of diseases and infections including:
- pancreatic cancer
- oral cancer
- pharyngeal cancer
- local lesions in the mouth.
Importing chewing tobacco for personal use
Chewing tobacco and oral snuffs are permanently banned from sale in Australia. However, individuals may import smokeless tobacco products if the product is for personal use (i.e. not for the purpose of supply) and weighs no more than 1.5 kilograms (kg).
Permit application process
To import more than 1.5 kilograms of chewing tobacco or oral snuffs for personal use (i.e. not for the purpose of supply), you must obtain a smokeless tobacco permit before it is imported.
You can apply for a permit by using the Product Safety Australia ‘make an enquiry’ form.
In this form, under the free text box marked What is your enquiry? provide:
- the exact quantity you wish to import
- reasons for wanting to import the requested quantity.
Ensure your response is accurate and complete. The ACCC advises the Minister on these permit applications and only once we have a full application can your application be considered. Giving false or misleading information is a serious offence.
Supply of a banned good is a contravention of the Australian Consumer Law and penalties may apply.
If you import tobacco that requires a permit and you do not have one, the Australian Border Force may seize the product and you may face financial penalties or prosecution.
Duties and tariffs
The ACCC is not responsible for managing or collecting duties or tariffs. Duties are required to be paid for all tobacco imported, including any smokeless tobacco imported for personal use. For more information on the relevant import duties please contact the Department of Home Affairs.